Maccast 2015.01.02 - Show #511
V Opening
V Pre-roll
* This episode of the Maccast is brought to you by You can get a free 10-day trial of’s outstanding video courses by going to
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* Music is Say Anything by Manda and the Marbles
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V News
V Beats wants exclusives in 2015
* Our friends at Cult of Mac have noticed a piece from The New York Post that claims Beats co-founder Jimmy Iovine is trying to score more exclusive album deals for Beats Music and iTunes
V Apple had good success with Beyonce’s exclusive iTunes album in 2013 and are looking to replicate that success with many more artists in 2015
* The Beyonce album sold more than 800,000 copies in its first three days of availability
* At the moment one stumbling block appears to be backlash from the labels who aren’t all too happy about their artists making side deals with the streaming music providers.
* Still making these kinds of deals is exactly why Apple wanted Iovine, Dr. Dre, and Beats. Their deep industry connection are helpful for Apple to continue the success of iTunes, iTunes Radio, and Beats Music.
V Apple has remained pretty silent on Beats since acquiring it, but there have been signs that the service, while still a smaller player, has been gaining subscribers under Apple’s watch
* There are rumors of a complete re-design and possibly a re-brand under iTunes, though I’m not sure the latter would be a smart move.
* Beats is also coming off a successful promotion with AT&T who said the deal "outperformed" their expectation.
V I took advantage of the Beats AT&T 90 day deal, but ultimately found that I didn’t use the service enough to make it worth continuing it.
* While I had it , I did enjoy it though.
* My hope is still that Apple rolls Beats and Music Match into one bundled service.
V More on Apple Pay expansion
* Apple also wants to continue the roll outs of their Apple Pay service in 2015.
* Last time we saw hints that Europe and specifically the UK were on the horizon
* This week brings word from The Telegraph that Apple want to launch Apple Pay in the UK in the first half of 2015
* One stumbling block in the negotiations with UK banks so far is reportedly concern over personal and financial information of the banks customers.
* Still the banks might not have a choice. The success of Apple Pay in the US creating putting pressure from consumers who don’t yet have access to Apple Pay and want it. Banks that support Apple Pay will benefit and likely most of the major banks in the region will choose to adopt Apple Pay despite the concerns.
* Apple Pay uses standard NFC technology and many terminals internationally already work with the service, but only currently with US based cards.
V iTunes purchases are now "refundable" in many EU countries
* Apple recently introduced a new 14-day no questions asked return policy for iTunes, App Store and iBooks purchases in Europe.
* iTunes Gift cards are not eligible for refund.
* The policy is no-questions asked you can request a cancellation via the "Report a Problem" feature in your iTunes Order history or via a written statement (I assume via an email to iTunes Store Support).
* Of course don’t assume Apple is making this change out of the goodness of their heart, Also don’t expect the policy to carry over to other countries like the US.
* Apple has to comply with a new consumer rights directive in the EU that requires a 14 calendar day right of cancellation or return period for both goods and services purchased in EAA countries.
* The directive has been around since June, but it appears Apple is just getting to updating most of its terms and conditions documents online.
* Good thing too because the directive says that if a business fails to properly inform consumers of the return period, the 14 day period is extended to a full year.
V Chevron will expand Apple Pay support to the pump
* Currently Chevron allows customers to use Apple Pay inside at its stores and Texaco Extra Mile locations, but soon you’ll be able to pay at the pump.
* A tweet on their official account indicated they were working directly with Apple to enable the feature.
* Chevron is currently the only gas and oil company listed among the official Apple Pay partners.
* They hope to have the systems in place by early 2015.
V Apple wins holiday activations
* According to Flurry analytics, Apple accounted for just over half of new mobile device activations over the holidays, with 51.3 percent of worldwide activations.
* Flurry gets their data by tracking about 600,000 apps and their latest numbers looked at activity from December 19th to the 25th.
* Samsung and Nokia came in second and third with 18 percent and 6 percent of global activations respectively.
* Obviously this is just a very small timeframe so you can’t draw much from the data, tough it does seems to indicate that Apple’s new iPhone 6 and 6 plus were popular holiday gifts.
V Despite that, "phablets" accounted for just 13 percent of new device activations. With what they called "medium" phones accounting for 64 percent of total activations.
* Screen sizes weren’t accounted for in the break down, but we’re assuming the iPhone 6 is "medium" and the 6 Plus a "phablet".
* The numbers seem to jive with what we’ve been hearing from Apple sources about sales of the iPhone 6 vs. iPhone 6 Plus.
* Note that their "device" activations included tablets, too with small and full-sized tablets capturing 11 percent of activations each.
* The report did mention the consumer trend toward larger screen phones saying that the iPhone 6 Plus was one of the top five devices they saw activated for Christmas; the iPhone 6 was number one.
V We get more rumors of Apple bringing back a 4-inch iPhone "mini"
* Some are now calling it the "iPhone 6s mini"
* Basically an update to the iPhone 5c/ iPhone 5s
* It also looks like the smaller device is expected to a lower cost entry level offering.
V Apple slipped a bit in one of Tim Cooks favorite quarterly results call figures, "Customer Sat" (customer satisfaction).
* The latest smartphone number from the American Customer Satisfaction Index indicated that Apple was down compared to last year
* Apple dropped 2.5 percent moving from a score of 81 down to 79.
* Even worse for Apple, and Tim, Samsung saw a 6.6 percent increase in customer satisfaction coming in with a score of 81 and beating out Apple for the number one spot.
* Apple and Samsung were the only two companies that beat the industry average which was 78
V It’s not clear why Apple saw a drop, but we can speculate.
* My thought is it’s a combination of a large number of new customers with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus and upgrades adjusting to the new form factor.
* Also Apple had some pretty bad launch issues with iOS 8 and specifically the iOS 8.0.1 update that bricked phone service on a lot of iPhones. Not the way to endear yourself to customers.
* It also feels to me that earlier in the year Apple was tightening policies at the Genius bars and not in a good way. Tying the hands of their frontline employees.
* It’s just my perception, but things at the Genius Bar later in the year seemed to be getting back to being customer focused again.
V Thunderbolt hardware hack
* A way of hacking a Mac via the Thunderbolt port was recently discovered and demonstrated at the Chaos Computer Congress in Hamburg, Germany.
* The attack code is put in the ROM of a hacked Thunderbolt device and delivered to the Mac when connected
* At that point it basically can re-write the Mac’s firmware replacing Apple’s RSA key with an attackers.
* Since the boot ROM is independent of the operating system, reinstallation of OS X will not remove it.
* Once it’s in place it can also replicate by copying itself to option ROMs in other Thunderbolt devices connected to the compromised Mac during a restart.
* The attack does require physical access, but a user could unwittingly get exploited by borrowing a malicious or compromised Thunderbolt cable or device.
* Apple has already implemented an intended fix in the latest Mac mini and iMac with Retina display and soon should be available for other Macs.
* At this point it also doesn’t look like the firmware bootkits exist in the wild.
* Still the best way to protect yourself would be to avoid borrowing any Thunderbolt devices and make sure your getting devices and accessories from reputable sources and companies.
V Battle for A9 production
* The competition for production of Apple’s A9 chip seems far from over.
* Last time we had been getting reports that Samsung was likely to win the bulk of the production contract, but now things are rumored to have changed.
* The Taipei Times seems to believe that Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) will now get the bulk of the orders
* The reason, production yield.
* The chip is reportedly going to use an even smaller 16nm (TSMC) or even 14nm (Samsung) process. The A8 uses a 20nm process.
* Going smaller produces more efficient chips that are cooler and more energy efficient, but makes manufacturing more difficult.
* The reality is that Apple does and will likely continue to use both companies. The question is who will have the most orders and that comes down to a lot of factors.
* Production yield is rightly a big part of that decision since that means the best volume, and price, for Apple.
V Photos beta removed from
* It appears Apple has removed the Photos app from, but it’s unclear why
* The app was added back in November and so far it was the only way you could add images to the new iCloud Photo Library beta which was launched along with iOS 8.1
* The app was also removed from the iCloud Beta website which is available to developers.
* A new Photos app for Mac is supposed to launch sometime early this year for OS X Yosemite users.
* If you’ve used the app to add iCloud Photo Library photos I’m not sure at this point if they’ll still be there or not when Apple finally releases the Photos app for OS X.
V Feedback, commentary, opinions
V iOS Alarm app
* Last episode we talked about how to create and use a "silent" alarm sound in GarageBand and use it for the alarms in iOS
* It was necessary because iOS alarms will always play a sound even in silent mode.
* I mentioned that possibly some 3rd party apps might offer a "silent" alarm feature.
V Matthew recommends 'Alarmed' by Yoctoville
* Can set repeating alerts or snooze an alert.
* It uses sounds, but honors the phone’s silent switch setting, unlike the Clock app.
V Resorting to hardware hack to fix a Mac
* We love our Macs and sometimes that love can make us do crazy things to keep them alive.
V This first happened to me with one of my all-time favorite Macs, the 14-inch iBook G4
* It had the dreaded GPU issue where over time the solder points fail and break causing the video to eventually stop working.
* When I had it I started looking for fixes and encountered all sorts of Frankenstein like hardware hack
* Most centered around extremely heating the GPU. Setting a mini-bonfire on top of it inside a votive candle tin or baking the motherboard in the oven.
* I attempted a "shim" technique that allowed me to boot, but quickly failed. There was even a desk clamping technique.
* The recent 2010 and 2011 Macbook Pro GPU issues have similar types of hardware "hacks" if you explore the popular Mac Discussion boards.
V Cooking a GPU failing Macbook logic board seems to be one of the most popular "fixes"
* Basically stripping it out, removing the CPU and baking the board at around 340 degrees fahrenheit for about seven minutes.
V Cooling also is another popular hacking "fix" for Macs who are mis behaving
V Currently some new Mac Pro owners, specifically users of the color corrector software DaVinci Resolve from BlackMagic are employing elaborate cooling hacks to try and resolve video issues.
* In the MacPro’s case it seems more likely that the trouble is driver issues with Mac Pro's ATI FirePro D700 graphics cards
* Some users report booting into Windows and using it’s drivers resolves the issues.
* I’ve seen reports and videos of Mac owners building all kinds of cool apparatuses, boxes, fans, and even liquid cooling systems.
* An iFixit employee recently drilled holes in the bottom casing under the fans of his Macbook Pro to aid in cooling.
* Often times these "fixes" will work and can prolong the Macs life "temporarily". Days, weeks, maybe months, but almost never have they been permanent.
* But all these "hacks" are like putting your loved Mac on life support and don’t really address the root issues.
* I have to wonder if they had the option if out Macs for opt for "Do Not Resuscitate" (DNR) orders.
V Sending delayed email
* Rick was asking about sending scheduled email in Mac OS X
V Send Later Mail plug-in
* OS X Yosemite compatible
V Use Automator
* Open Applications > Automator
* Create a new "Calendar Alarm" document.
* Click 'Show Library' in the toolbar if it’s not already visible. Expand to see all Libraries and choose the Mail Library
* Select and drag the 'New Mail Message' item to your workflow.
V Save your Workflow
* We have to do this now because for some odd reason this will Trigger the Calendar Event to be scheduled to run immediately
* Delete the new event in Calendar.
* Close the blank email message that gets generated in Mail and don’t save. return to Automator
* Fill in your email info. To, BCC, Subject, Email Body
* Now add the 'Send Outgoing Message' item from the Mail library.
* Save your Workflow and you’re done with the Workflow.
V To schedule your email
* Open Calendar.
* Add a new event and set it’s start and end time and date for when you want your scheduled email to be sent.
* Add an alert for the event
* Choose 'Custom…' and select 'Open File'
* Choose 'Other…' from the file dropdown and select the workflow you created earlier (~/Library/Workflows/Applications/Calendar/Send Delayed
* Set alter to happen "At time of event".
V That’s it now as long as your Mac is powered on and awake it should run.
* You might want to adjust your energy saver settings to leave the Mac running, but sleep the display only.
* Not 100% sure if this is necessary, but better safe than sorry.
V Need more features for sending things like bulk email newsletters?
* Check out Direct Mail for Mac
* For a small list, up to 50 emails a month it’s free. Great for a monthly newsletter fro a meet-up group or club.
* After that pricing is monthly based on the number of subscribers, pay-as-you go email credits, or pay $199 for the software and use your own SMTP server
V Go home iOS 8 you’re drunk
* Is it just me or does iOS 8 seem to continue to be plagued by odd, and very annoying, UI issues?
* These are issue that, while not showstoppers, can make you want to go for the iPhone distance throwing record. They often have temporary "fixes" but will eventually return.
V Tommy just told me about one I have not experienced, but sounds like it fits this category
* iOS 8 multitasking gestures occasionally fail.
* On the iPad, Settings > General > Multitasking Gestures. Allows 4 and 5 finger gestures like pinch to home screen, swipe up to multitasking, and swipe between apps.
* I often have it disabled because it conflicts with many apps that use 4 and 5 finger gestures.
* If they do fail for you Tommy says you can get them working again by activating Notification Center or by toggling the Multitasking Gestures feature on and off in Settings
V I have two of my own that are annoying as well
* Control Center won’t come up on the lock screen. That can be fixed by sliding to unlock and then returning to the lock screen without logging in.
* Spotlight Search not returning results. I’ve been apple to fix this by doing a reset of the device. Hold down the home and sleep/wake buttons at the same time until the device reboots.
V What about you?
* Do you have others?
* Different fixes for the ones we’ve mentioned here?
V Things of the moment
* It’s 2015 and after 10 years I figure let’s add a new segment.
* Maybe not new to podcasts, but new to the Maccast.
* I don’t formal product reviews, but I have stuff I use and like so I figure it’s be nice to share one or two things I’m currently digging each week.
V Audio Engine B1 Bluetooth Music Receiver
* They folks at Audio Engine sent me a unit a few months back and I immediately connected it to my Audio Engine P4s via the N22 desktop amplifier
* What’s impressed me the most is the reliability of the connection and the sound quality
V Connecting it up was also dead simple.
* Powered by USB, so connected to computer, USB hub, or wall outlet
* Connect the unit to a receiver or powered speakers
* Connect the Bluetooth on the Mac.
* 24-bit up-sampling DAC, so it sounds amazing.
* It is a bit pricier than some other solutions, but I think the audio quality and robustness of the solution make it worth while.
* They also say their solution has better range than other products, but mine is in a small close space so i have not tested that claim.
V Crossy Road by Hipster Whale
* Frogger style endless runner.
* There is an in-app purchase element and I give it a medium for annoyingness. Occasional pop-up at the end of a run.
* You can also eat coins to get the same character twice.
* Of course any character can be purchased for $0.99
* Can play the entire thing without spending a dime.
* I did buy the $4.99, "Piggy Bank" upgrade which let’s you gain coins faster.
V Closing
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